WAKE FOREST, N.C. — The proposal for Wake Forest and Raleigh to merge their water and sewer systems tied neighbors up in debate for years. Despite the resistance, the change was bound to happen.
Tuesday evening, town commissioners voted unanimously to merge its systems with Raleigh.
"I hope that you will realize that every member of this board has struggled with this vote," Mayor Vivian Jones said.
The cost of independence is $20 million by some estimates in Wake Forest, where water bills are already twice as high as Raleigh's.
"I'm paying my bill every month and I want the best rate possible. So I'm actually excited about this," commissioner Stephen Barrington said.
To resident Wayne Sloan, the move to merge is like flushing local control down the drain.
"I just think it's in the best interest if the smaller group can manage their situations. It's for the betterment of the whole community," he said.
Some said it is not that they did not want a deal, it is that they just wanted a better one.
"In a poker game, we lost. We were bluffed out. We had some good chips and I don't think we worked them as thoroughly as we could," resident Don Mendorf said.
Opponents pointed out that Raleigh's water rates are projected to rise consistently in the coming years and, according to their estimates, any reduction in its water bills would not be seen for about seven to eight years.
Wake Forest commissioners believe as decisions about water become more regional, aligning with Raleigh will put the town in a better position to negotiate for water resources in the future.
The deal will take effect by April.